Friday, June 24, 2011

Bike Rodeo

There is essentially no formal effort to educate bike riders on how to be safe and do things right. And one gets the impression that a lot of kids learn from clueless teachers. So it was exciting to help put on a Bike Rodeo yesterday evening, to give 10 or so Cub Scouts a bit of education. (I'm a cubmaster these days, and every June is the traditional Bike Rodeo... intended to provide both fun and education.)

I enlisted the help of a couple gifted and willing volunteers - Clancy, who reads and occasionally comments here, and Dave, who works in the same office building as me. Clancy is very mechanically-inclined; works at the Boise Bike Project and builds up bicycles... including a bike he built out of wood! Clancy rides a lot, too. And Dave is the only other guy at my office - maybe 800 people - who rides his bike year-round. I've ridden with him and have observed his safety skills.

During preparation, I had a couple setbacks. I made the mistake of storing some milk for refreshments in the church refrigerator overnight. It was gone. ("Thou shalt not steal" is a hard concept to understand, apparently.) And the night before, I drew out a little road practice course in the parking lot with sidewalk chalk. A half-hour or so after I was done, a fantastic thunderstorm blew up out of nowhere - it poured rain for 15 minutes or so. The next morning I went to survey the damage... there was absolutely no evidence that a course had ever been there! D'oh! Fortunately, I'd used less than half of the chalk, so my assistant Jared and I were able to redo the course in 45 minutes or so.

As for the Bike Rodeo, we started with a couple learning sessions. Dave and I taught about how to ride safe - my rules in a nutshell are BE LEGAL, BE PREDICTABLE, BE VISIBLE, and BE DEFENSIVE. Clancy and Andrew (a Varsity scout with considerable bike skills and a sweet single-speed) taught the ABCs of safety-checking your bike before you ride.

Following the learning sessions, we sent the groups to: 1) a big loop - 5 times around is a mile, and 2) our chalk-outline road course, where they could practice straight-line riding, signaling their turns, stopping and starting in a smooth fashion, and riding the slalom course.

I got the impression that the evening was a success. Nobody got hurt, and I didn't kill anybody! (I struggle a bit with the limited attention span of 8-10 year olds, but my granddaughter gives me experience with that almost every day.) The chocolate milk (as plugged by Kristin Armstrong) and peanut butter cookies (all cyclists love peanut butter!) topped the evening off nicely.

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